Rates have not been increased since 2013
Hopewell Township residents connected to the Stony Brook Regional Sewerage Authority (SBRSA) service district will see increases from the township for sewage disposal and a high flow surcharge.
The Township Committee adopted an ordinance updating the fee rates at the governing body’s Sept. 5 meeting. The rates have not been updated since 2013.
Township residents in the Stony Brook Service District that have non-metered water connections will see a $25 increase from the previous $385 flat service charge for sewage disposal. Each quarter, the operations charge will be $310 with a $100 capital improvement charge for a total of $410.
The high flow surcharge is increasing $85 per quarter, which is a $26 increase from the rate structure in 2004.
The 2013 ordinance stated that for 2004 there had been a $59 high flow surcharge for quarters – two, three, and four.
“This ordinance was last updated in 2013, so we have been using the same rate structure for 10 years. What we did in on this ordinance is we are breaking down the structure of the fees a little bit differently,” Township CFO Julie Troutman said.
Troutman explained the new rate structure in the ordinance is giving a little definition on how rents are collected and the purpose of the rents.
“There is a piece of this ordinance that has a little of what we are calling an overflow,” she said. “This has an actual start and end, so it would just be for the fourth quarter of this year and then the four quarters of next year. Then that piece of this fee structure will fall off.”
According to Troutman, the ordinance will force the township to look at the rate structure periodically.
“So, this will give us a little more room to grow and flex the change in utility,” she added.
During the public hearing, a resident who had been a part of the decision process to update the fee rate that was passed in 2013, said it was time to “increase” the rate.
“I was part of the Sewer Committee that came up with the rate that was passed in 2013. It was based off assuming that the maximum fee from Stony Brook would be $220,000 in a wet year,” she said.
“In the last three years, the fee from Stony Brook has been $272,000, $283,000, and $248,000, so it was time to increase the rate otherwise you could not pay our fees without going into debt.”
But the reason for the increased fees is the high flows, she noted.
“We have been over 90,000 gallons on average a day since about 2018. Before that we never went over 90,000 a day,” the resident said.
“That is the system getting old, getting leaky and needing to be fixed. So, the ordinance that was passed in May to make that fix is the start to get back to reasonable flow levels, which will then be able to turn more into reasonable sewer rates.”
Deputy Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning supported the ordinance but raised concerns that the rates had not been examined for 10 years.
“So going forward can we come up with a mechanism to review this more often so we can avoid sudden jumps in the rates,” Peters-Manning said. “At the same rate during this review, we could look at the improvements from the inflow and infiltration improvements and evaluate where it needs to be.”
Troutman added that they can make the rates review a part of the budget process to “make it a more involved conversation and more of a projection.”